After five months in three hospitals, a four-month coma, and time in a short-term rehabilitation facility, Patricia Moore was left with the lingering effects of her long battle with COVID-19 pneumonia. The 70-year-old Statesville resident was temporarily paralyzed and had severe, life-threatening lung tissue damage.
Following months of rest and recovery, the previously active Moore was eager to regain her strength and learn to manage her newly diagnosed lung condition, pulmonary fibrosis. But, this was a challenging task that she couldn’t do alone.
It was Moore’s emotional journey with COVID pneumonia and her inspiring determination to live her second chance at life to the fullest that led her to Iredell Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation.
Moore’s journey leading to Iredell
In late February of 2021, Moore could have never guessed what was to come.
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“I remember laying on the couch and I had a bit of a strange headache. I closed my eyes and slumped on the couch, and I don’t know how long I stayed there. I knew I needed to go to CVS and get a COVID test. When I got to CVS, the employee there said I needed to go to the hospital,” said Moore.
Moore was taken to an area hospital but was sent home.
“I remember feeling worse and worse. I think it was about two days later, I wasn’t even hardly coherent at that point, I tried to talk to my daughter on the phone, and she called 9-1-1,” she said.
The EMTs arrived to find Moore collapsed on the floor.
“All I remember is them putting me in the ambulance and looking over and seeing Billy [Moore’s boyfriend] there with me. That’s all I knew until July,” said Moore.
Moore was taken to an area hospital and was almost immediately admitted to the intensive care unit. Her condition deteriorated, and she was intubated, ventilated, and put into an induced coma. Moore was later transferred to two different hospitals.
Though Moore was left with no recollection of her experience, her family and friends bore the hardship of remembering and enduring her long journey for her. They were told Moore’s chances of survival were slim.
“When asked to sign a DNR [do not resuscitate order], my daughter Tricia, told them, ‘God will take her when he is ready.’ I want to think her and my prayer warriors for being strong and having the faith of a mustard seed,” said Moore.
Miraculously, Moore defied the odds, and after four months in a coma, her vitals improved, and she began to wake up. Her fifth month in the hospital was still hard to recall due to medications. But, her battle was not quite over yet.
“When I woke up, I was temporarily paralyzed. I couldn’t move at all. COVID had attacked every joint that I had. I was so surprised at where I was and what I had been through,” she said.
Soon after, Moore was transferred to a short-term rehabilitation facility, where she began her extensive road to recovery with various types of therapy.
On Aug. 18, 2021, Moore was finally able to go home for the first time since February. With the help of an in-home physical therapist, Moore was walking up and down the stairs by the end of the year.
Though Moore was making incredible physical strides, COVID had also caused internal issues. Due to her sickness, Moore developed pulmonary fibrosis, a progressive, life-long disease that causes lung scarring and damage.
“COVID pneumonia caused me to have scar tissue in my lungs, and there’s no cure. I had a friend who just died from pulmonary fibrosis. She had it for seven years,” said Moore.
But, being the person she is and thinking of all she had already overcome, Moore did not give up hope. That’s when her pulmonologist recommended she visit Iredell Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation.
Iredell Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation
Prior to her illness, Moore considered herself to be generally healthy and active. Before she retired, she used to do yoga every day and even taught it at work. When she was cooking or doing other household chores, she would squeeze in time for a short exercise, like doing a few squats or leg lifts. She was eager to regain her strength but also to learn how to manage her pulmonary fibrosis. And Iredell Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation offered services to help her achieve both of those goals.
Moore started her classes at Iredell for pulmonary rehabilitation in April of 2022.
Iredell’s pulmonary rehab program takes a multidisciplinary approach to improve the health and quality of life of those with respiratory disorders and diseases. Through exercise, breathing techniques, and education, pulmonary rehab provides the greatest opportunity for improvement in symptoms, exercise capacity, and quality of life.
“Patients often enter the program with the simple goal to be able to walk from the bed to the bathroom without needing to rest or sit down. Tasks we identify as ‘simple’ are very difficult for this population. After 1-2 sessions, we see an improvement, maybe not in their exercise tolerance, but in their ability to breathe properly, which in turn gives them more energy,” said Lisa Warren, director of cardiopulmonary Rehab at Iredell Health System.
Moore went to pulmonary rehabilitation twice a week for about an hour and a half each session.
“When I got there, the staff would hook me up to a heart monitor and check my oxygen and temperature. We would do breathing exercises, have a little warm-up session, and then we would go to the exercise machines they had assigned for us. We would do 15 minutes on each of the two machines,” said Moore.
Moore was impressed that staff would check her vitals while she was working out. It gave her peace of mind to know she was safe and was being monitored. Different from a public gym, Iredell Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation also provides participants with oxygen as needed when exercising.
“After I started on my first machine, they would come and check my oxygen and heart rate and then check again while I was on my second machine,” she said.
After exercising and cooling down, Moore participated in an education session to learn more about pulmonary fibrosis. Moore admits that prior to pulmonary rehab, she did not know the limitations of her disease.
“They would show us a video and tell us about things related to pulmonary fibrosis. They would tell us things to do and things to avoid, like chocolate, dairy, and alcohol,” said Moore.
“The staff was extremely thorough and knowledgeable. They also taught us how to get around the house, exercises to do for breathing, and other safety precautions” she added.
Moore also enjoyed the support from the other participants in the program and felt the camaraderie was beneficial.
“It was comforting to know that you’re not going through something alone,” said Moore.
As an added bonus, Billy, Moore’s boyfriend, who also had COVID, was able to go through the program with her. Billy joined Iredell Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation’s Fit for Life program, designed for people who prefer to exercise in a medically supervised environment. This way, Moore and Billy could exercise together, encourage each other, and both learn more about pulmonary fibrosis.
In August 2022, Moore finished her pulmonary rehabilitation, but she plans to go back and join the Fit for Life program.
“I could really see a difference at the end of the program. It definitely helped me regain my strength, manage my weight, and learn more about pulmonary fibrosis. I would recommend Iredell pulmonary rehab to any who need it,” said Moore.
Throughout her time at Iredell Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation, Moore was incredibly grateful for the program nurses and all others who cared for her.
“They were so personable, attentive, and aware of everything that was going on. I was thankful that they were so caring. They were so caring that at the end of my course, we made them lunch and a cake as a way to say thank you,” said Moore.
When asked what advice she would give to others, Moore offered some words of encouragement.
“There’s going to be things that happen that you can’t avoid or control, but just try to stay healthy, eat right, and exercise. And above all else, be kind,” she said.
Looking back on her experience, Moore realizes she has learned a lot and has even more to be thankful for.
“God has left me here to do his work, and I know there is a reason I am still here. One of the things I try to do is tell my story. My faith has grown through my experience, and I hope to share that with others. I also think if we think positive, positive things are going to happen,” she said.
Through her determination and the support from the pulmonary rehab program at Iredell Health System, Patricia lives a healthier life and now knows how to best manage her condition. Your support can help others like Patricia improve their lives. Please consider a donation to Iredell Health Foundation’s annual fund, Grateful Patients & Families of Iredell. Your gift is an extension of Iredell’s compassionate care and helps patients during their time of greatest need. To learn more about the fund, or to make a donation, visit IredellHealthFoundation.org, or call 704-878-7669.
Iredell Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation is located in the Outpatient Services Building at 739 Hartness Road in Statesville. To learn more about Iredell Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation or their Fit for Life program, call 704-878-4558.